As International Women’s Day draws closer it’s important to open up the discussion of inequality, not just among women but both genders.
Gender equality is not a women’s issue, it’s a human rights issue.
In the past decade the advances in technology and social media have been on an almost steroid injected trajectory. We are not limited for choices. These developments mean we can get almost anything delivered straight to our doors, thank’s to the literal press of a button.
Yet there are still many (and dare I say, more important) things that haven’t really evolved with time. Or at least at an appropriate pace.
It’s 2015 and girls and women around the world are still being physically/emotionally abused, objectified, silenced and subject to gender discrimination on a daily basis. It’s very easy for people (both men and women) to dismiss posts and comments like this one. Even subconsciously we can role our eyes and sigh, what is she complaining about? Women are offered everything men are. Here in Australia that is (almost) true.
Did you know..
- 80% of MPs are men? Male journalists are behind 78% of all front page articles and 84% of people mentioned or quoted in those lead articles are men (The Guardian 2015).
- Women hold only 19% of parliamentary seats worldwide, 16% of ministerial posts and globally only one quarter of senior officials or manager positions (The Guardian 2015).
- In Australia, each week one woman is killed by a partner or former partner and every three hours a woman is hospitalised due to domestic violence. (The Australian 2015).
Don’t be fooled, we still aren’t untouched by inequality.
The gender pay gap is at a record high with women still being paid less than men in the same role, comments like ‘she was wearing a short dress so she was asking for it’ are voiced whenever there’s a rape or murder. We still feel uneasy walking after dark. We are still expected to look to dress in a feminine way and to be able to cook and clean.
Let’s not get nit picky though – I’m not talking about wolf whistles on the street or bantering where female’s are referred to as ‘wifey’ or teased ‘is it that time of month?’.
Yes, I have the same study and job opportunities as males my age group, I can wear whatever I want and am able to join in on diverse conversations if I wish. I can express my opinion without fear of retribution. We as a country are lucky in so many ways and Australia has made significant progress towards gender equality. But we are the minority not the majority.
Those uncomfortable unsettling snippets on our nightly news about child slavery, girl-bride’s, women being attacked/raped/murdered walking home after work and dying at the hands of domestic violence are hard to comprehend and sometimes feel like a bad, but far off fairytale nightmare. We feel sad yes, but we soon push those feelings of anguish down, along with our eyes. Switch off the news. Plus all that “stuff” is getting better, right? It doesn’t really affect us does it? – wrong.
Did you also know..
- There are 140 million women without access to modern family planning. The goal for 2015 was universal coverage (Global Issues 2015).
- One in every three women around the world have been beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused in her lifetime (Oxfam Australia).
- Almost all of the 4.5 million people “forced into sexual exploitation” are girls and women (Global Issues 2015).
These issues have always been seen as, and assumed to be, a female problem. A beating on the feminism drum. I admit I guess I looked at it that way to. But gender equality is not a women’s issue, it’s a human rights issue. Equality benefits everyone – man, woman and child.
HeForShe is a movement for gender equality that aims to “bring together one half of humanity in support of the other half of humanity, for the benefit of all”.
UN Women started the campaign last year to encourage and involve men in taking action against the inequalities faced by women and girls all over the world. They call upon men to stand up against gender discrimination and support women’s rights. It’s a small step, but it’s a step nonetheless.
Let’s make sure by this time next year next year that progress in human rights issues, third world poverty, social equality and the discrimination of same-sex couples will be our greatest achievement and advance as a nation.